Petros Report Card - CU game

All the wheels are turning in the right direction for Carroll right now. It doesn't seem like he has made one bad move this season. Carroll's ability to get players to compete, week to week, and play a lot of guys insures depth, confidence and a positive team environment for everybody involved.

If you are Trojan fan and you aren't smiling after Saturday's game there's something wrong with your mouth.  It looks as if Carroll is building the program that we envisioned Hackett building, and JRob, and Larry Smith, and Ted Tollner, etc.  Once again SC dominated the line of scrimmage and this time they destroyed Colorado on national television. SC has not dominated a game like this since they beat Louisiana Tech down in 1999 and I'm happy to report that not one member of the Trojan team got down on his knee after this game and asked anybody to get married.

 

QB (A)

Carson Palmer was stellar, aside from one bonehead interception.  He was 22 of 30 for 244 and a touchdown but it is his ability to lead the team that has increased tenfold.  The Trojans seem controlled, organized and efficient on offense on pretty much every possession.  Even with platooning of running backs, receivers and offensive linemen that would confuse a younger quarterback, Carson is in control at all times. 

 

RB (A)

Perhaps the most dominating USC running performance in the last five years.  Malaefou MacKenzie has found once again the attacking running style that made him the most highly touted running back recruit of the mid-90's.  With confidence, great feet and a much more consistent offensive line, his game has finally reached its highest level and people no longer cringe every time he gets tackled.  Sultan McCullough proves again with his long 62-yard touchdown run that he is the fastest running back in USC history with invaluable big play ability (I would say it's the best run of the last five years but I went for 65 against Cal, got you by three yards Sulty).   Not only did Sultan show speed but also an incredible amount of resolve and power running between the tackles.  A fine performance by the two seniors.   Hershel Dennis is probably going to burn his redshirt year but he has the future looking bright for the Trojan run game.  It's not very often that we see a freshman back make the correct cut 90% of the time but this is what Hershel does, this is his skill.  It's also great to have Chad Pierson back in the line-up, one of the best runners with the ball and a great blocker. 

 

WR/TE (A)

Anybody who doesn't know who Mike Williams is right now must have been out of the country on Saturday.  He is, perhaps, the most exciting young receiver in USC history.  Not since midway through Keyshawn Johnson's junior year with the Trojans have we seen such a physically dominating, sure handed "freak:" like Williams.  He is also doing this now as an 18-year old while at this point Keyshawn was at West LA JC selling t-shirts out of the back of his car so the future looks good for Mike.  Solid play from Keary Colbert and Kareem Kelly showed the entire country that the Trojans have multiple players who can catch the football.  Gregg Guenther looks now to have a slight edge on Alex Holmes at the tight end position, look for Holmes to buckle down and start making plays in this offense.  Guenther contributed nicely with some timely catches. 

 

OL (A)

The OL was more than impressive and the left side was very, very solid, the left side was dominating by pushing the Colorado front four, which wasn't a bad front four, off the ball.  Lenny Vandermade and Jacob Rogers have become now what the SC running game has needed for years, a dominant side to run to.  Winston Justice in his first start was impressive by making little to no mistakes.  Eric Torres looked much more comfortable at guard where he was moving people like he's never moved them before and that might be a spot for him to stay.  By moving offensive linemen around and creating opportunities for young guys to play Coach Carroll is building something in a new and innovative way at USC.  Carroll should be commended and Tim Davis has brought a fiery intensity and competitive spirit to the line that has been gravely missed in some recent coaching tenures.

 

DL (A)

These were the men who turned the keys to victory for the Trojans.  This is USC's strongest personnel group, Ed Orgeron is reaching new heights with a physical, rabid wild dog-like sense of playing.  Bernard Riley, Mike Patterson, Omar Nazel, Shaun Cody, Kenechi Udeze and Van Brown are rivaling some Florida schools for the scariest defensive line in the NCAA right now.  If your defensive line can penetrate it can disrupt an offense and give you a chance to win anywhere.  Coach Orgeron's guys do more than penetrate, they penetrate, disrupt and destroy.  The ability of the d-line to show how truly one-dimensional the Colorado offense was is what changed the day. 

 

LB (A)

Consistent play proves that this workman-like squad was not a one-hit wonder on Monday night against Auburn.  Matt Grootegoed, though occasionally knocking himself out while hitting people, gives the Trojans the SAM linebacker they have needed since Zeke Moreno moved to the middle after Claiborne left.  Michael Pollard, who's tackle count was not high, is the undisputed leader of the Trojan front seven.  What Carson is to the offense Pollard is to the defense, he keeps those guys in line (can you believe Hackett tried to get this guy to transfer?).  Champ Simmons was questionable coming into the game but he was dominating in spurts.  When you have a good program going and people like playing for you, like the players enjoy playing for Carroll, then you will start to see more and more transfers from quality guys like Champ, Fargas, Brandon Hance, etc.

 

DB (A)

Robert Hodge was 1 for 9 but this was not because the SC secondary was unbelievable.  Hodge had the worst day of his life playing football, it seemed to be a nightmare for the QB, but being a kind man and knowing Hodge is a South Bay man like myself I wish him well for the rest of the season.  Troy Polamalu recorded some of the big hits that Trojan fans have become accustomed to seeing and it showed that the semi-quiet first game will not be the norm.  DeShaun Hill showed up a few times making tackles and, let's be honest, our corners weren't really tested.  This unit gets an "A" because everyone else on the defense gets one too. 

 

Special teams (C)

Displaying some frightening tendencies that have troubled USC kickers in the past, David Davis hit some uncharacteristically low kicks but look for him to rebound under the watchful eye of his angry coach Kennedy Pola.  Tom Malone still looks like a freshman punting the football although the altitude helped his average a little.  One dark spot on a pretty bright day for the Trojans was protection in the kicking game and inconsistency from the kickers.  Having Troy Polamalu is any special teams coach dream come true, it's a chore for most players but a pleasure for Troy.  Taking on double teams and triple teams, Troy opened up the way for walk-on sophomore Forrest Mozart to make a great athletic dive and block a punt.  Congratulations Forrest, you now have the weirdest name on the team.

 

Coaching (A)

All the wheels are turning in the right direction for Carroll right now.  It doesn't seem like he has made one bad move this season.  Carroll's ability to get players to compete, week to week, and play a lot of guys insures depth, confidence and a positive team environment for everybody involved.  Defensively he has shown the ability to expose anybody's weakness.  Norm Chow is now being regarded as the genius that we heard so much about.   Kennedy Pola has created the family-type atmosphere among running backs that was lacking last season and nobody seems unhappy with it.  It looks like Carroll has made all the right hires to create a support system for players to promote victory.

 

Fight On -

 

Petros

 

After flying into Denver at 4:00am and conducting a broadcast off ten minutes of nightmare nap time the game seemed like a dream sequence.  Thanks to Tony Persacina, the captain of my junior year high school football team, for driving me to the game in his station wagon (chicks love station wagons).  I've never been to Kansas but I've been to Manhattan Beach, CA and Manhattan Island, NY and I'm expecting the same high level of culture and sophistication….if you're out there I'll have a goat cheese pizza with you. 

 

Petros Papadakis is a former USC tailback and the sideline reporter for Trojans football on KMPC-1540. He also hosts the Trojans pregame showand Tuesday night's USC Insider on KMPC-1540. On television, Petros is an analyst for Fox Sports Net's Southern California Sports Report and he's the sideline reporter for Fox Sports Net's "High School Game of the Week." When Petros is not doing television or radio he's waiting tables at his family's Greek restaurant, Papadakis Taverna, in San Pedro. Petros has no free time.


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